DiSSCo is...

DiSSCo responds to a research need. To that end, DiSSCo promotes unification and completion of the data aggregation value chain, opens access to integrated data and consolidates a scientific community while driving a paradigm shift. By doing so, DiSSCo facilitates better science, that underpins decision-making. DiSSCo mobilizes data and expertise, and serves a catalogue of services to a variety of users. Thus, DiSSCo fosters specialization and efficiency, supports innovation, accelerates scientific discoveries and responses, advances scientific literacy and amplifies impact.

DiSSCo in a nutshell
14 key messages

DiSSCo responds

Long-term investment in state-of-the-art science (1) Data research infrastructures are key investments in excellent research to respond to the ever-increasing demand from the scientific community for high volume interconnected information and interoperable tools. DiSSCo meets this need by providing integrated open access to comprehensive, precise and reliable data, services and expertise jointly compiled around a strong partnership that currently gathers 121 natural science collections-based institutions across 21 European countries.

Key words: #investment #strong partnership #excellent science #data #services #expertise #interconnected #interoperable

The DiSSCo Bulgaria consortium makes the successful case for a national level project to mobilise and share, as FAIR data, a major part of the previously inaccessible information deriving from national natural science collections.


DiSSCo promotes

Unification to complete the data aggregation value chain (2) DiSSCo unifies fragmented and scarce natural sciences collections-related information. DiSSCo adds unique value in the global data aggregation value chain (access, taxonomic curation, validation, data maintenance) by linking a physical specimen to its digital surrogate thereby making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Key words: #unification #fragmented information #uniquevalue #datavaluechain

The EU funded project BiCKL unites different infrastructures (e.g ELIXIR, Lifewatch, DiSSCo), aggregators (e.g.GBIF), publishers and repositories (e.g. Pensoft, Zenodo) to develop a new approach/community that tackles unification of natural science collections data throughout its entire life cycle, from taxonomic description to publication.


DiSSCo opens-up

Liberation of integrated knowledge for complex analysis (3) The use in DiSSCo of shared, aligned and interoperable mechanisms, policies and strategies enables building a unified system that liberates data and interconnects multifaceted knowledge from varied sources, and finally provides access to digitized specimens that become a valuable resource for scientists to carry out large and complex analyses, interpretation and annotation of collections information.

Key words: #dataliberation #access #taxonomiccuration #validation #datamaintenance #interoperable mechanisms #policies and strategies

Only 10% of collections hold worldwide has been digitized which leaves 90% of the valuable information inaccessible and reachable only by physical access.


DiSSCo consolidates

Strong scientific community for collaborative work (4) DiSSCo's resilience and sustainability rely on the strength of its scientific community built around CETAF that unites distributed and specialized expertise in geo- and bio-diversity related sciences across Europe. This scientific union has been fortified by a long history of impactful collaboration, countless publications, joint discoveries, and co-development of scientific advancements.

Key words: #scientific community #expertise #long history #collaboration #shared co-developments #joint discoveries #publications

Outputs produced by our European expert communities, for instance in the context of CETAF, are applied in concrete actions /changes in the DiSSCo Research Infrastructure services and tools, such as CETAF Stable Identifiers for collections specimens now embedded into DiSSCo's standardization practices.


DiSSCo drives

A transformative change in scientific paradigms (5) The realization of DiSSCo promises a paradigm shift to a 'new way of doing science' by enabling specimens to be studied in their rightful, holistic, environmental context where cross-linked information, based on integrated, FAIR and open data, effectively underpins the entire research life cycle yielding more reliable, robust and updated science.

Key words: #transformative change #holistic approach #research lifecycle #integrated FAIR and open data

Regardless whether you enter the bio- and geodiversity knowledge cloud from the perspective of specimens stored in DiSSCo, sequences stored in ENA/NCBI genbank, or phylogenies from publications, the fully integrated and FAIR data allows navigation from all perspectives. Such is the case, among others, for the spatial mapping of genes extracted from genbank that derive from specimens that were collected at a specific locality and time.


DiSSCo facilitates

Better science from linked geo- and bio-diversity data in its environmental context (6) The 'digital' specimen opens the door to establishing permanent links to a specimen's related attributes (taxonomic, morphologic, geospatial, images, genomics, molecular, literature, etc.) allocated in distributed resources but unified in DiSSCo by means of shared, aligned and interoperable mechanisms, policies and strategies. Open access to this enriched, seamlessly integrated data resource allows scientists to conduct contextual, accurate, quality assured research at a scope and scale previously impossible to attain.

Key words: #biodiversity in ecological context #data quality #enlargement of scope and scale of data #interoperable mechanisms #policies #strategies

A researcher working on an invasive species distribution and biotic interactions, would be able to access through the DiSSCo's unique entry point, the sum total of data deriving from the specimens of that species, including deposited sequences, images and morphological traits.


DiSSCo underpins

Good science is the foundation of informed decision-making and evidence-based policies (7) DiSSCo's unique enriched data resources and its associated services underpin informed decision-making and evidence-based implementation of policies. The fit-for-purpose information is not only essential in addressing today's global climate and environmental challenges supporting the tenets of the European Green Deal and European Biodiversity Strategy 2030, but is equally important in fertilizing deployment of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) and ensuring strong development of the European Research Area (ERA) over time.

Key words: #informed decision-making #evidence-based policy implementation #cross-domain #EU Biodiversity Strategy #European Green Deal #ERA #SRIA

Integrated collections-derived data and linked expertise is used by DiSSCo as a resource for the new European Biodiversity Knowledge Centre to support science-policy interface. This significantly reduces the overheads for the centre to develop separate operational links with hundreds of individual resources at the national level.


DiSSCo mobilizes

Data mobilization and integrated analysis and modeling (8) DiSSCo is anchored in mass digitization of natural science collections and expert curation to produce a specimen's digital twin. It is therefore essential to clear the backlog of undigitized specimens through a harmonized digitization roadmap across countries, making investments in dedicated staff and equipment, training, capacity building, and systematic programmes, and developing digitization assessment tools.

Key words: #mass digitization #digital twins #capacity building #training #roadmaps

The digital twins of our physical specimens enable both human and machine readable and actionable knowledge to be integrated into larger models towards an eventual digital “replicate” of earth. Under the DiSSCo linked project SYNTHESYS+, a first Virtual Access call resulted in the selection of five projects for the digitization of 214K specimens across 15 institutions.


DiSSCo serves

Convenient services for collections access to a variety of users (9) DiSSCo serves its members and the broader science community by providing a range of associated services, based on standards and protocols that are also aligned with overarching initiatives, specifically the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). EOSC infrastructure clusters (such as the environmental-related ENVRI) will allocate their services catalogues for disparate communities of users.

Key words: #DiSSCo services #ENVRI #EOSC

Among those services developed by DiSSCo (some are currently near completion and can be viewed as demonstrators): (a) the European Loans and Visits System (ELViS), a system for convenient online requests for virtual or physical access to collections; (b) Digitization on Demand, a peer reviewed prioritized system for requesting digitization; and (c) a collections directory and digitisation status dashboard.


DiSSCo fosters

Unified data promotes specialization, capacity enhancement and efficiencies (10) The DiSSCo European unified collection enriches collective assets and fosters knowledge specialization strategies, capacity enhancement efficiencies in collection management and economies of scale in funding programmes through the alignment and coordination of natural science collection policies, processes, research, and prioritization strategies.

Key words: #unified collection #specialization #efficiencies #economies of scale #coordinated #effort

In the context of DiSSCo, The Netherlands is developing its national collections infrastructure specialisation towards, among others, rapid species identification and bio-monitoring. This expertise will be shared across Europe, minimising duplication of investments in initial innovation by others.


DiSSCo supports

Data hub access supports innovation that contributes to economic growth (11) DiSSCo acts as a knowledge hub providing data access to multiple users thus contributing to economic growth by enabling knowledge transfer across domains and facilitating innovation as part of its continuing dialogue and cooperation with industry.

Key words: #dialogue with industry #economic growth #innovation #knowledge transfer

The needs by DiSSCo for industrial scale digitisation, the digital transformation of institutions and large scale data services, combined with the uniqueness of the data it provides, will attract industry in developing novel products and services (AI applications, data storage, etc.) and vice versa. The multidisciplinarity and cross-domain collaborations inherent in DiSSCo's structure makes fertile ground for triggering innovation that would then be transferred to industry.


DiSSCo accelerates

Consolidated European resources and expertise (12) The consolidated structure, organization and specialization of natural sciences collections resources together with the related expertise through a collaborative pan-European endeavor, and the collaboration with cross-domain initiatives and data aggregators, accelerates discovery and improves scientific responses to urgent societal needs.

Key words: #consolidation #organization #specialization #scientific responses #societal needs

Together, DiSSCo Research Infrastructure and CETAF's community of experts have created a Task Force on COVID-19 to elaborate best practices, guidelines and promote standards in better identifying virus carriers and hosts to support multidisciplinary research and contribute to prevent future outbreaks.


DiSSCo advances

Promoting science literacy (13) DiSSCo supports and advances scientific literacy through the educational and historical value of the data contained in the natural sciences collections, through its involvement in citizen-science initiatives for the co-creation of science with impact in social welfare, and through its adherence to the tenets of the Aarhus Convention, which establishes a number of rights of the public with regard to the environment.

Key words: #citizen-science initiative #Aarhus Convention #co-creation of science #historical and educational value

DiSSCo through the CETAF community collaborates with ECSA in promoting citizen-science based initiatives that strengthen the linkage between research and society for the co-creation of science. The museums have a dedicated long-lasting history in training amateur taxonomists and building non-professional capacities for facilitating collection of observation data.


DiSSCo amplifies

Global collaboration amplifies impact (14) DiSSCo underpins a global collaborative effort of natural science and other related research infrastructures (e.g. Lifewatch, LTer, ELIXIR) and data aggregators (e.g. GBIF) who are jointly forming a comprehensive Alliance for Biodiversity, anchored in a robust knowledge base that provides multiple top-class services and best practices for a variety of global user communities.

Key words: #alliance #top-class services #best practices

Through co-funded projects, DiSSCo establishes operational links to other domain-specific research infrastructures, such as ELIXIR, LifeWatch, E-RIHS, facilitating multidisciplinary research. ELIXIR and DiSSCo are working together to improve links between deposited sequence information (in ENA) and vouchered specimens (in museum collections).